Hello, my name is Julian, and I’m from a little town in Quebec on the Vermont border. We call the place Verbec, and like to imagine our province and the state of Vermont as its own entity, where folks like riding bikes on quiet roads. I’m a longtime employee and part owner of a pair of bike shops in Montreal, C&L Cycle (@clcycle), where we are known as a neighbourhood repair shop, a destination for all things touring and bikepacking, and as the home base of Bassi Bikes (@bassi.bikes). I’ve toured plenty in various lovely places around the world, spending quite some time in South America on various trips. The prototype for this frame explored the Andes east of Lima and Trujillo in Peru in early 2020!
I’ve ridden quite a few iterations of this frame, starting with the prototype that first landed three years ago now. The Hog’s Back, with its mile-long top tube, was very much intended to be built with swept back, wide, comfy handlebars, and initially, that’s what we expected everyone’s build to feature. Then something a little unexpected happened: people started building it with drop bars. Early adopters were friends Keith, and James and Candice at Analog Cycles, whose Discord Components stems help shorten the reach to achieve this kind of setup. It caught on so much that we ended up offering a drop bar build as a stock option. I felt that I needed to see what the hype was all about, so I built myself a road bike!
A few of the component choices are highlights for me. I’m quite fond of Newbaum’s cushioned cotton bar tape. I love the way it soaks up the UV and fades, just like some of my favourite black t-shirts. The fraying is fun too. Sim Works Super Yummy. They live up to their name. Moderate but grabby tread and peanut butter sidewalls do great on smooth, chunky, and everything in between. Plus, they look fantastic! These pedals are something else. They’re Shimano Deore XT PD-M730s, produced between 1986 and 1993. I’ve never enjoyed a platform pedal so much. If you’re hunting for a used pair, make sure to get this wider version, not the more conventionally shaped and smaller PD-M735. Or treat yourself and order a NOS pair from Chillin ATB Antique Dealer.
And here’s the weird part. We’re living in a strange time, and parts sourcing for our customer’s builds has been a challenge, to say the least. This build is very much a reaction to that, simplifying the parts I needed to source. It’s a 2×2 transmission, inspired by our friends and Bassi dealers Crumbworks. It’s got a double crank (40/34) in the front that I manually shift (upshift with my hand, downshift with my toe) and a double freewheel (20/22) that I shift with the barrel adjuster on the Shimano RD-6100 derailleur. It may seem strange, or dumb, but I’m into the simplicity. A lot of my bikes are single speeds and albeit a slight departure from that, this transmission gets me in the same mindset. Since I don’t shift with my hands while riding, I always feel as though I’m in the right gear and adjust my cadence and effort accordingly. It’s fun, try it!
- Frame/Fork Bassi Hog’s Back, Sparkly Sand, 51cm
- Rims Velocity Blunt 35, 26”
- Hubs Shutter Precision PD-8 (front) / White Industries ENO (rear)
- Tires Sim Works x Panaracer Super Yummy 26″
- Handlebars Salsa Cowchipper 52cm
- Headset White Industries EC34
- Crankset Bassi Classic Compact Double, big ring swapped out for a Wolf Tooth 40t
- Pedals Shimano Deore XT PD-M730
- Cassette White Industries DOS 20/22t
- Derailleur Shimano 600 RD-6100
- Brakes TRP RRL levers and Spyre calipers
- Shifter(s) Rear derailleur barrel adjuster
- Saddle Brooks C17
- Seatpost Bassi
- Bags Not pictured here; mix from local makers Atwater Atelier and Gurp Stitchwork
All said and done, I’ve been stoked with this build. I rode the bike on my friend Matt’s yearly Dynamo ride, inspired by classic UK overnighter Dunwich Dynamo. It did fantastically on the rolling hills of the Rivière Rouge and was plenty comfy for a hallucinatory overnight 150km. Then I rode it for a week with a bikepacking setup in the Chic-Choc mountains in Gaspésie, where you can find the namesake for the Hog’s Back. Cruising the ATV trails of Réserve Faunique Matane, climbing up Mount Logan, wild descents in Parc National de la Gaspésie, long rolling gravel days to Murdochville, power line rough stuff, riverside doubletrack, Mont Béchervaise singletrack, and a glorious finish in Parc Forillon were all a pleasure on this whip. Check out the route we followed here. We had a great time and I’d recommend it to anyone!
You can follow along with Julian on Instagram @juliangammon.
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